This is the 80th in a series of 100 daily posts, a Countdown to College Football. (Sort of.)
We are now four-fifths of the way through the longest daily countdown in — possibly — human history. It has been an amazing and prolific run. And you’ve been right there the whole time along for the ride. Imagine the stories you will tell.
To add to your surplus of regalia, today we look at a current Buckeye great, a river-based shootout, an Ohio State question mark with many answers, and an interior battle against that team up north.
If you missed yesterday’s edition, you can find it right here.
Now please join us as we continue our countdown of the 100 greatest Buckeyes of The Ozone era (1996-present).
We will also preview one of the 100 most exciting games on this fall’s college football schedule, and one of the 100 things we’re most looking forward to this fall.
Plus, we’ll preview one of this season’s 100 biggest personnel matchups.
Greatest Buckeyes Of The Ozone Era
#21 Nick Bosa, 2016-2018
How does a player end up so high on this list after just two years? Well, it helps to be a Bosa.
Nick Bosa has been everything he was expected to be at Ohio State. I can’t say he’s been more than expected, however, because he was expected to be great. Nick Bosa has spent the majority of his life living up to expectations, and few of us have ever had to hit such lofty marks.
Even though he has technically only ever started seven games, Bosa’s role in Ohio State’s defensive end rotation began from day one as a Buckeye. As a true freshman, he infiltrated a talented trio of now-NFL defensive ends and turned them into a quartet. He was basically the Neil Young of the Rushmen.
A Freshman All-American in 2016, Bosa responded as a sophomore with 34 tackles, 16.0 tackles for loss, and 8.5 sacks — while splitting reps with many other talented defensive ends.
He was a named a First-Team All-American, First-Team All-B1G, and was Ohio State’s fourth-consecutive Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year (Joey Bosa 2014, 2015; Tyquan Lewis 2016). Bosa is also a two-time scholar athlete.
Bosa was the only member of the Ohio State defense to be named a Champion in each of the Buckeyes’ 12 wins last season.
He enters his third and — if all goes as planned — final season at OSU this year. His best season as a Buckeye is now expected, and we all know what happens when there are expectations for Nick Bosa to live up to.
Best Games This Fall
#21 Oklahoma vs. Texas (in Dallas)
Texas lost a heartbreaker 29-24 last year in Tom Herman’s first Red River Shootout, so he’s not going to want to go 0-2 against Texas’ main rival.
(Of course he didn’t want to go 0-1 either and we saw how that worked out for him.)
The Longhorns have lost six of the last eight in this rivalry, but the last four contests have been decided by seven points or less.
Interestingly, Texas hasn’t been ranked for this game since 2012, and yet they have been able to pull off two upsets over a Top 12 Sooners team in the last five seasons.
Being ranked isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, however, since a ranked Longhorn team lost 63-21 to Oklahoma in 2012.
The Sooners will come into this game with the hottest offensive coach in college football, which is something that Tom Herman used to be. After some struggles in his first year in Austin, this will be an opportunity for Herman to re-establish Texas as the preeminent team in the Big XII.
Looking at their schedule, however, there could be a rough start for the Longhorns. They open the season at Maryland, who beat them last year. In week three they host USC, then TCU in week four, then head to Kansas State the week before the Oklahoma game. Those are four named schools, but they all have their flaws. Perhaps Texas sweeps them all and we have a Top 10 matchup at the Texas State Fair.
That wouldn’t suck.
What We Can’t Wait To See
#21 The Buckeye Linebackers
There are plenty of debates of the two or three biggest concerns for the Buckeyes this year, but I’d be willing to bet the majority of those arguers are pointing their fingers at the Ohio State linebackers.
We’ve written and talked a ton about these question marks, but I’m also looking forward to seeing the answers put forth.
Malik Harrison and Keandre Jones are juniors now — they have been around long enough to be able to emerge as leaders. Heck, this is Justin Hilliard’s fourth season. Tuf Borland will eventually be back. And do not forget about Dante Booker. Injuries have stifled Booker, but he’s won a starting job on this Ohio State defense twice. He has also heard the people doubting him.
Then you have the young guys like Baron Browning and Pete Werner, who the coaches love to talk about.
There is also a talented trio of freshman on campus now. There is a healthy competition going on for playing time here, which maybe wasn’t necessarily the case last year with the Buckeyes having three veterans at the top.
Yes, there are questions, but that doesn’t mean the Buckeyes don’t have the answers.
Matchup To Watch
#21 Aubrey Solomon, MICH DT vs. Michael Jordan
Aubrey Solomon should be Michigan’s top interior defensive lineman this season, so he and Michael Jordan are going to get to know each other quite a bit this November.
Interestingly, there was only one game over Michigan’s final eight contests last season where Solomon did not record a tackle. Yep, you guessed it — Ohio State.
The Buckeyes neutralized the Michigan run defense pretty well last season, including All-Big Ten defensive tackle Mo Hurst.
Billy Price is gone now, so more of a load will fall on Jordan this year — literally and figuratively. If he can contain Solomon when the two of them meet up in November, however, the Ohio State run game will once again have an opportunity to wear the Wolverine defense down.